3 Reasons I Chose Indow Windows (and so should you!)

Indow Windows

You know that I’m not a big promoter of new products here, but every once in a while someone comes up with a product or technique that makes it easier and cheaper to save old houses. And when that happens I am all over it like white on rice! My company has recently become a dealer for Indow Windows. Why? Because they work! I have them in my own home and it is truly incredible how much of [...] Read on →

Ask The Craftsman: What’s the Best Finish For Wood Floors?

best finish for wood floors

Don’t forget that if your question is selected for our Ask The Craftsman posts you’ll get a free copy of my eBook Living in the Past! (Now available on iTunes and in paperback & kindle on Amazon) We’ve got another great question this week from Richard in Pompano Beach, FL “What’s the best finish for the wood floors on my 1924 Bungalow?” Richard, the gold standard for refinishing wood floors today is 3 coats of oil-based polyurethane. It [...] Read on →

Replacement Windows: The Real Story

Replacement windows

If you own an old house you are the prime demographic for the replacement windows industry. They would love to convince you to remove all your home’s original windows and replace them with new energy efficient windows. I can hear them beginning to salivate right now. (I have excellent hearing) The replacement windows industry is out to sell a product and sell it often. I won’t hide my bias here. I am not a fan of replacement windows. [...] Read on →

Ask the Craftsman: Which Paint is Best For Wood Windows?

wood windows

This week’s question comes from Dave in Minneapolis, MN. Dave, before you paint anything I recommend priming your wood windows with a good oil-based primer. You can read more about primers here. Once you’ve primed you’re ready to pick a finish paint. Oil-based Paint Oil-based enamel is great for woodwork. It provides a hard finish that won’t cause your windows to stick like water-based paints have a tendency to do. The downside is that they tend to yellow [...] Read on →

The Bungalow: America’s Home

Bungalow

Ever since it burst on the scene the bungalow has been an immensely popular style of architecture. You won’t find it listed in many books on architecture though because it is not a true architectural style like the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne Victorian, or its most closely related cousin the American Craftsman. The bungalow is a simple everyman’s house. Nothing too grand or big. No ornate gingerbread trim with extravagant 10-color paint schemes. Of all the historic home styles [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 3 Steam Heat)

how-to-strip-paint

This is the last post in our 3 part series on how to strip paint. In the first one I talked about working with chemical strippers and when and how to use them. Last week we delved into the world of elbow grease and talked about how to scrape like a pro. This week I want to talk about using heat to remove paint. Specifically, steam heat, but we’ll also discuss infrared strippers and good old-fashioned heat guns. [...] Read on →

Invisible Repairs For a Hardwood Floor

Invisible Repairs Hardwood Floor

My company is featured in the April/May 2014 edition of Fine Homebuilding Magazine for the unique way we repair historic hardwood floors. Here is a large portion of the article available for free only to The Craftsman Blog family. Enjoy! Other than refinishing hardwood floors, the most common repair my restoration company gets called to do is floorboard replacement. The most typical reasons we replace boards are due to termite or water damage, pet stains that almost blacken the boards to a [...] Read on →

How To Restore Steel Windows

Historic Steel Window

Historic steel windows are all across America. They became popular in big cities to combat the fires that were so common around the turn of the 20th century. Then from the 1930s until the 1950s they were a popular choice in residential housing due to the decreasing availability of quality lumber. Many steel windows sit and deteriorate across the country. While much attention has been paid to restoring traditional wood windows by preservationists, historic steel windows have fallen [...] Read on →

5 Types of Dormers

Dormer

Dormers are like the eyes of a house. Resting on roof tops they add headroom and light to upper stories and add interest to an otherwise plain roofline. I remember spending the first spring in our little bungalow sitting on the roof restoring the two eyebrow dormers that were almost rotted away. It was exhausting work being on that steep slope day after day, but when it was finished the pay off was incredible. Our house no longer [...] Read on →

How To Weatherstrip Wood Windows

How to weatherstrip wood windows

There are a lot of different techniques to weatherstrip wood windows. Like anything, some are more effective than others. In this post I’ll show you how to install spring bronze weatherstripping on your old windows. Spring bronze is without a doubt my favorite type of weatherstripping for a few reasons: Very attractive and gains a nice patina as it ages Lasts well over 100 years when installed properly Very effective at air sealing Extremely adaptable to seal gaps [...] Read on →

How To: Make a Small House Feel Large

Small space

Old houses are often much smaller than their counterparts today. The size of the average American home has grown enormously over the 20th century. From an average size of around 1,100 sq. ft. at the beginning of the century to 2,169 sq. ft. as of 2010, which is down from the all-time high of 2,248 sq. ft. in 2006. While many of us love the character and craftsmanship of an old house, they are not without their challenges [...] Read on →

Choosing Rot Resistant Wood

rot resistant wood

Old houses are constantly having to deal with wood rot and insect damage. While the old-growth wood used in houses built before the turn of the 20th Century are a more rot resistant wood than anything available today, no wood is rot or insect proof.  Insects and fungi (aka rot) love soft wood. Preferably soft, wet wood, which is why you’ll find termite damage in water logged areas of an old house. The soft pine, fir and other [...] Read on →

3 Ways Storm Windows Can Save Your House

Storm Windows

Historic windows can be a real conundrum for some people. Sure they are a gorgeous part of every old house, but they can be a real energy waste if they haven’t been properly maintained and weatherstripped. But just because they aren’t energy-efficient now doesn’t mean they can never be efficient. If you have the means to restore your old wood windows you should definitely do it. You’ll regain their functionality and beauty in addition to really upping their [...] Read on →

6 Awesome Historic Floor Tile Patterns

Tile is possibly the biggest design element of any bathroom. And if you are working on a vintage bath it’s important to use historic floor tile patterns that fit your home. If your bathroom was “remudeled” in the past it can be hard to find a floor tile that will fit your home’s age and style. Most of these floor tile patterns were popular from the early 1900s until WWII and will fit nicely with any old house [...] Read on →